Washington Mutual Checking Accounts

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Checking Accounts and Fraud
By -

CALIFORNIA -- I don't think I have ever really truly felt disappointment in any of the banks I've been with until now - with Washington Mutual. Years ago, I remember starting out with Bank of America and then moving to Wells Fargo because I always had some sort of a complaint about their outrageous fees or customer service. Eventually, I landed with Washington Mutual because of their "Free Checking" and being a college student, the word "Free" always meant a good thing, right?

So about a month ago, on a Sunday in November, there was an outrageous amount withdrawn from my checking account, using my debit card, or so I was told by a WAMU representative. Luckily, I must have caught it the day it had been done because it hadn't posted to my account yet.

So I called the 1-800 number and talked to someone, who I guessed was not located at a U.S. call center since she had a very thick accent. I discussed my problem with her and calmly told her that I had not charged anything that huge to my account and that would they please block it from going through to keep my account from being extremely negative and me getting charged with an overdraft fee. Of course, the woman says "No, we can't do that. We have to wait for it to post..."

I couldn't even file a dispute about it at that time! Basically she told me that I had to go for a few days with a -$900 in my checking account. I was furious! This wasn't a credit card, where I couldn't care less about the balance while the company did their investigation - this was cash that I had to live on to pay bills, eat, buy groceries or even pay my rent!! And they couldn't do a damn thing about it except wait for the fraudulent charge to go through?!

After the initial shock and frustration wore off, I walked into the nearby branch the next day and spoke to the branch manager. He didn't really tell me anything different - I have to wait for the amount to post, sign an affidavit the next day when the amount should have posted and then they'd go ahead with the investigation. He closed my current debit card and issued me a new one.

About a week later, the mysterious pending charge went away - probably because there wasn't enough funds for it to go through - and I thought OK, maybe they fixed it or it really was some sort of mistake on the merchant's side. I even thought that may be WAMU was trustworthy, after all. By this time, I had received my new debit card - minus its PIN number, and it was right on time because I was due for a week-long vacation!

So what happens when I come back from vacation and try to cash in two refund checks I had received in the mail in one of their branches?? Can you imagine this - strolling into the branch to cash in checks right before work, thinking that your only intent is to cash in the checks to have cash in your pocket since you can't access your account through the ATM. I get up to the teller window and she even tells me to sign the checks but a minute later she says that there was a restraint put on my checking account! The teller had to make some inquiry calls. So I've already waited about fifteen minutes in line and if I didn't leave right then I would be very late to work.

After about three minutes that the teller was put on hold, I tell her "I'm sorry, but I can't just wait here while you're waiting on the phone because I have to go to work. I'll just come back tomorrow." And I left with my two uncashed checks and only about three dollars in cash in my pocket.

I returned the next day, about two hours before I was due at work to give myself plenty of time in the bank. I ended up speaking to the branch manager who told me the same thing. ACH put a restraint on my account because it had been compromised and that they couldn't do anything about my money in the account until they took off the restraint, which wouldn't be during the weekend. So he compromised with me - he would open a new account and cash my refund checks so I'd have money for the weekend. And that I just had to return on Monday to transfer my money from the old account. I said OK.

On Monday, I went back. Honestly, I was starting to get sick of having to go back to the bank almost everyday just to straighten out my account. I told the person helping me that I wanted to leave some money in my old account because I had an automatic debit going through for a bill. So she says OK, ends up transferring everything into the new account and tells me that there's a "penny pay-through" that would allow any automatic payments in the old account pull funds from the new account. And I said OK because it made sense to me.

I asked her if I was able to use my new debit card and she assures me it does work - it is linked to the new account. Then I finally leave the branch, thinking "Finally, it's settled, I have a new account that works." And what happens to me at a department store when I try to buy a simple gift certificate?? The card doesn't work.

I try to pay with a new check I was issued when I opened up the new account. That check doesn't work as well! I end up paying with cash and going back to the bank branch. I told them neither the card nor the check worked. What the hell was I supposed to do?? They still assured me that the card should work and that the checking account was active - maybe it took a day for the systems to update. Great, so I decided to pull out a bunch of cash for just in case, leaving a good amount in the account for my automatic charges.

The next day I decided to check my balance to see if my automatic payments went through. One went through for my cellular phone payment. But to the old one where there was no longer any money in it. My question - what the heck happened to the penny pay through crap?? So I had to take care of this.

Luckily, I was able to transfer funds back from my new account to cover the balance but I definitely refused to pay the overdraft fee that they were trying to charge me. Why should I pay for it when they obviously know I have money with them and it was them that made me transfer everything over in the first place instead of leaving some money in the old account. I had to talk to about three or four different people before I finally got to a supervisor who was able to credit me back for that overdraft fee.

My only problem left was the most important preauthorized payment I had that should have gone through did not. Another WAMU customer representative told me that the payment had been bounced back to the company instead of pulling funds from the new account. So instead of calling the 1-800 number again I call my branch instead and spoke to the bank manager who had opened up my new account. He was unable to reverse the blocked payment but he offered to pay any fees the company charged.

After I called the company they said they couldn't set up another automatic debit - it was either a MO, cashier's check or a wire transfer, which all of them costs a certain fee, plus whatever fee the company charged me for the unsuccessful debit.

It was like one problem after another after another. I didn't even get a single call from WAMU to notify me of the "restraint" they put on my account. Their online banking says they'd send an email. But if you're going to put a restraint on a person's checking account which would you prefer - contact via email or via phone? I would prefer to be notified by phone where an actual person explains to me WHY. OK, I understand it's a means to solve the compromised account but they should really let you know ahead of time and not just do it so I find out when I walk into the branch and all I'm trying to do is cash in a simple check.

This situation just makes me feel uncomfortable with this bank and completely unable to trust WAMU with my hard-earned money or automatic bill payments. It's just a huge, huge inconvenience for me to pay extra fees just to wire a payment because the payment of the month was bounced back - courtesy of WAMU, when I was told - assured - that it should have gone through after opening and transferring money into a new account.

The bottom line? I'm saying good-bye to the bank I was so loyal to for 6 years. I'm so extremely disappointed in your services and don't think I could ever do business with you again. By the way, did you know that many of WAMU's call centers are located in the Philippines?? Sometimes it's even hard to understand the person you're talking to because their English is limited. It's true. I found the information online.

     
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No Fraud Protection or Competent Customer Service
By -

GEORGIA -- I opened a Washington Mutual checking account about 6 years ago when I moved to Georgia. I was impressed with the "free" checking and the "new" way they did business. Until recently I had every reason to believe they were the company they said they were. Then I had a problem.

On December 12, 2007 my purse was stolen out of my car. The thieves were quick to use my debit card but only were able to spend about $200 before I cancelled the card. When I realized my purse was stolen I immediately called WAMU and cancelled my debit card and stopped payment on the checks that were in my purse. I had no reason to believe that the thieves would be able to do much with them plus I was told there would be a flag of some sort on my account since I reported it stolen.

I reported the fraudulent activity the day it happened and it took 12 business days for me to get credit while they investigated. Although it was a ridiculously long time and it was inconvenient since Xmas was around the corner, I was actually OK since it wasn't a large amount and I thought everything had been caught.

Then on January 11th I noticed two large withdrawals from my checking account. They were not made through the ATM but at two different branches. The withdrawals pretty much emptied my account. You can only imagine my horror. I immediately called customer service to find out what was going on. I was told that I would have to call the actual branches where the withdrawals were made to talk about possible fraud. I was annoyed but agreed.

I called the first branch and spoke to a teller. I told him about the theft that occurred in December and he said that he would freeze my account from all further transactions and directed me to Risk Operations. When I asked the teller how something like this could have happened when my debit card was inactivated, he said the person who made the withdrawals probably looked just like me and used my debit card and license as proof of identification. Umm suspicious but I let that go.

So I talked to someone in Risk Operations and she says she will request the withdrawal slips from both branches and start an investigation. While she was talking to me she asked me in a very rude manner, "When your purse was stolen why didn't you just close the account?" Now just imagine how upset that comment made me when I'm looking at my only bank account that is practically empty; on a Friday afternoon; two kids; and some creeps driving around the city with my license and money!! Needless to say, I told her why I did not close the account and that I was assured that there would be an alert on my account since my info was reported stolen.

After that weekend I went to a branch to open a new account. The process was annoying. At first the tellers acted like they didn't understand what I needed them to do, then they didn't know how to get the hold lifted from my old account to get the few dollars I had left. I asked to close my account and was told I couldn't because I had two pending claims (the one from December and the one from January). I said, "OK" and verified several times that NO transactions would come through the old account. Everyone said there would be no more activity on the old account.

I also asked the branch manager how my account could have been compromised. He said it may have been someone who went through the drive through. He told me that the customers have to show two forms of ID and the ATM/Debit card can serve as one of them. [WHAT??]

In the meantime I had been calling customer service to get updates on when my funds would be credited or returned. I was consistently given the run around. Every time I called, the reps I spoke to didn't have a clue what I was talking about. Every time they said they had no record on my account of the January fraud. I spoke to managers and reps all who gave me conflicting information.

During this time I had to go into branches to handle business. On one occasion I went to one of the branches where the fraud occurred. Rather than get into the details of the visit I'll give highlights: None of the tellers knew what to do. The branch manager did not listen to me when I told him what the situation was. Rather than calling customer service the branch manager called the branch that put the original hold on my account to ask them why they did that. The branch manager gave ME a hard time about my ID (duplicate driver's license).

When asked how my account could have been compromised at his branch the reply was: "You only need one form of ID to make withdrawals and they gave us your license. Since they went through the drive through we could not verify ID because we cannot see people in the drive through." To which I said, "So you don't verify ID when you go through the drive through?", his response, "No." [Are you kidding?]

On January 22th I spoke to a rep who again couldn't find any record of the January fraud but she would start the process for me. She told me I had to request a copy of the original withdrawal slips. These slips would be sent to me at my home. Then I would have to take those into both of the branches and try and get the money back that way. That made no sense to me but she insisted that was the only way to resolve the matter.

On January 25th a charge appeared in my old account for $10.00 for copy fee. When I called to complain I was told it was an error and actually it was from them investigating my case. In any case the charges were removed but it proved that they were working very slowly on my case and that they were allowing transactions on my account. At that time a manager told me that two forms of ID are needed to make a withdrawal and the ATM/Debit card is not considered ID.

The next week they allowed an electronic withdrawal to go through my account. This caused an overdraft and an subsequent fee. I called, got the run around, and then spoke to yet another person who didn't have a clue as to what was going on. I was told to go into a branch and transfer funds into my account to cover the charges and that it would never happen again. Finally on January 30th the full amount into my new account. That was a full 2 1/2 weeks!

Going through all this I realized that WAMU has serious training and policy issues. They are not concerned with the security of our accounts, don't care about providing good service, and hire idiots. Other banks in my area pledge to return money lost to fraud within 3 business days to your account. They may charge more in fees but to know my money is safe and will come back to me in a reasonable time if stolen is 100% worth it. I will NEVER bank with WAMU again.

     
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WaMu Ripped Me Off for Almost $100!!! Transferred Money to Another Account Without My Approval
By -

Let me begin with the fact that my daughter and I had a joint account since she was 17 (about 3 years ago). When she turned 18 and was going to college in Texas she got her own account with WaMu. I tried to take her name off the joint account but was told we would both need to come in to a branch to do that, well that's kind of difficult when she is in TX and I was in WA, so I asked if I could just close the account and get me another one and was told I couldn't do that either for the same reason. So we left things be.

Never had any problems until just recently when her account was overdrawn. WaMu decided to take everything I had in my account $94.54 and transfer it into her account without any prior notification or asking for my permission, they basically robbed me. I didn't even know what had happened at first. I went online to see if a $75 check I had mailed had come out yet and instead I was horrified to see my balance at $0 and no the check had not come out yet. All it said was Transfer Withdrawal and the amount, not where it went or who approved this transfer.

I called them immediately and after getting the runaround on their automated phone system I finally got to talk to a live person who informed me that their resolution center was now closed and I would have to call back in the morning. I spent a sleepless night waiting for 6am Pacific time so I could call them back. When I called them back, after I had to go through the spiel with the automated system again, I finally got a person on the line.

I explained the situation once more and asked what the heck was going on, why was all of my money taken out of the account? She told me it was because my daughter's bank account was overdrawn and since her name was still on my account they were allowed to take the money out of mine to put it in hers to bring her negative balance down.

Well, I was outraged at that point and demanded to speak with a supervisor. She wasn't much help either, after I explained my situation yet again she just simply said that they were allowed to do this because my daughter's name was on the account. I told the lady that this was MY money and that my daughter hadn't done any transactions with this account for over three years. I also told her that I had two checks coming out that needed to be paid and would now bounce as a result of them taking my money.

It was obvious that the lady didn't give a hoot and informed me that if there was any checks that were going to be returned for insufficient funds I would get an insufficient funds charge of $34 for each one. Say what? They rob me of every penny I had and then they going to charge me another $34 on top of it for bounced checks that shouldn't even be bouncing because I had enough funds in the account to cover them?

My daughter and I now both live in Idaho, so we went to the WaMu branch here to close the account. And guess what? They didn't need both of us, I was able to close the account just fine without my daughter's signature or even asking for her approval. When we questioned the clerk about this, she said I was given false information back in Washington when I first tried to either remove my daughter's name or close the account then. This whole situation could have been avoided if they would have let me take her off the account then.

The reason I closed this joint account is that I also have a joint account with my ex-husband and I don't want them taking money out of that account when my other one goes negative due to the insufficient funds charges, they could just do a chain reaction transferring funds. I have no idea what will happen with the bounced checks now either, one of them is for less than $5 and I'm sure they'll charge me another $34 insufficient funds fee for that one as well, bringing the grand total of the rip off to $162.54!

I'm not sure if they can legally do what they did but it certainly isn't very ethical. I feel like I was robbed and in a sense I was. I went on the FDIC website and filed a complaint with them. I don't know how much good it will do but if you do business with Washington Mutual aka WaMu BEWARE!!!

     
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Refusal to Shut Account Down... DON'T GO HERE
By -

PENNSYLVANIA -- I am so disgusted I don't know where to turn at this point. I had seriously contemplated posting this on here, but I really feel I am at a loss as to where to go next. My husband opened an account with Washington Mutual last year. At the time, we decided that he open the account first and then I would be added later when I started my new job. Anyway, once it was time to add me, my husband had to write a letter stating it was OK to add me and in that letter I had to provide a copy of my photo driver's license and social security card (notarized) and send it to a main branch in NJ.

We had done all of this and still they had not added me to his account even after several follow up phone calls with them saying it was the right procedure and someone who contradicted it. Ridiculous! So I opened my own account and made the funds transferable back and forth between my husband's account and mine. For a while all was going well. Since my husband is an over the road tractor trailer driver, I would monitor both his account and mine online from home.

Within the first week of his employment following school, I noticed some very unusual bank activity being done that was not his. Along with the 3 letters in the mail of someone trying to get a cell phone and the banking going awry, my husband and I felt strongly he became a victim of identity theft and his banking information was compromised.

What started it was an unauthorized payment posted to his account from a company we do not deal with. Since he hadn't received a paycheck from his new job yet, this transaction put the account in the negative. I called the bank immediately to inform them of the transaction and that it wasn't him. I told him he's sitting in a tractor trailer with a trainer and has no access to any banking. They informed me that because I was not on the account, they could not talk to me NOR document the discovery I had made. Following that, I called my husband and informed him of the news.

A few days later when he came home, he called the bank. This was the first week in June that this occurred and my husband called on June 8, 2007 to request that the account be shut down immediately or at the very least halt all transactions coming or going from the account. In the past 6 weeks, we have made additional phone calls and written statements demanding the account be shut down and they are REFUSING and are continuing to bill us for NSF and Overdraft charges of $32.00 per transaction. At the time we reported it, we were only in the negative by @ $50. To date, they have hit us with so many fees it has driven the account to nearly -$400.

I can't get them to stop and they continue to refuse to shut it down. Is this legal? We have consulted a company attorney, but because my husband has not completed his 90 day new employee probation, his services are limited. We have no financial means to hire one ourselves. I am very fearful this will continue and we can do nothing. I don't know what to do. I have paper after paper of emails and responses from them claiming they are investigating it, but nothing happens and no one calls or gives any indication of an update. The account just continues to go further and further in debt.

We even told them we referred it to an attorney and still they refused. No reason has been given as to why they refuse. This is robbery and they will come after me to pay this huge balance. I'm appalled and deeply upset by this. They will do nothing to protect their customers. One response I received states it takes 5 business days to conduct an inquiry to one of the transactions I questioned. When I got the response it had already been 2 wks since I inquired and to date, I have heard nothing. They can't even give my husband an update. No one calls, we can't get anywhere, they argue with us, very rude and will not help.

WHAT DO I DO??? I don't even know where this would fall under legal matters to look online. We have since stopped any money from being deposited into that bank and opened a new secure bank account that we share with no one. How do I fix this mess with WAMU? I will pay for what is truly ours, but I disagree that I should be penalized to pay any charges following June 8, 2007 when they were first informed it was compromised.

     
Replies
Don't Be Fooled by Washington Mutual
By -

ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- I was sucked into the whole "free checking different kind of banking" hoopla that Washington Mutual advertised, and am now incredibly disappointed in the service I have received. I make a deposit, twice a month, from the same company (my employer), for the same amount. Recently, I made that same deposit, and for no reason whatsoever, Washington Mutual put a two day hold on my funds which resulted in an NSF charge which they told me they would not remove since it wasn't a bank error. That I would have to wait whatever time frame they imposed on check holds to use my funds.

So, you get a checking account to better manage your money, and then aren't allowed access to it until they arbitrarily deem it ready. DON'T USE WASHINGTON MUTUAL BANKING!!! AND SPREAD THE WORD!!!

     
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Closing Accounts & Name Change
By -

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND -- WAMU had me jump through so many hoops in order to officially change my name on an account, including filling out a form and having it notarized. Months after I did everything they required I do and that they stated was necessary for the name change on the account, I still find the old name on my account statements, on-line and on checks sent from my on-line account. In addition, I have requested to have an empty account closed and I followed the required steps to do so and then months later found that the account is still open!

I have never dealt with such an inconsistent, unreliable, unprofessional, disorganized, disappointing, frustrating bank that no matter which steps one takes in order to achieve goals or who one talks to, NOTHING gets accomplished aside from going in circles and feeling extremely irate and frustrated. 10-15 years ago, this was a good bank. Since then, and especially in the past few years, it has had such a sharp decline in its management and customer service that it is just unbelievable and irreversible. Good luck JP Morgan to you and those that choose to actually stick around and give you a chance!

     
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They Are Robbing Our Family and Getting Away With It. Maybe Yours Too.
By -

CALIFORNIA -- Washington Mutual has it set up so that all the transactions of the day go though from the Highest to the lowest amt. on withdrawals. By doing it this way they are able to receive more overdraft fees. If I have a check for $250, $25, $10, $9, and $5 then they will withdraw the one for $250. Supposing my acct. balance was only $245. By processing the check for $250 first then I will have an overdraft for that check and each one after that. If they were to process the smaller checks first I would only have one overdraft charge.

Another thing that they do is process all debits at the end of the day before processing any deposits. That way they will have overdraft charges taken before the deposit is made. Even though the debits and the deposits were made on the same day. They are squeezing every penny out of us that they can. Let me know if you are experiencing the same thing at your bank. Does anyone know what can be done about this?

     
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Washington Mutual Charges Unjustified Fee
By -

CALIFORNIA -- I ran out of deposit slips for my Washington Mutual checking account. Since I was able to deposit a check into an ATM without one, and this deposit cleared, I did not really need to use deposit slips, but wanted to get more as a courtesy to the bank personnel. The customer service person I reached by telephone was either very new on the job, incompetent, or distracted. The call took a very long time, as I was repeatedly told that "the computer" was processing something or other. At no time was I informed that there would be charge for deposit slips. I certainly never would have paid for these items for which I personally get no benefit.

I was shocked to see a charge for $6.75 appear on my account statement for 100 deposit slips. I called customer service again and was on hold for fifteen minutes. Even though I explained that I had never given permission to have my account charged, nor was this possibility ever even suggested to me, the representative would do nothing. The response was basically, "That's the way it is."

No, it is not. A consumer is never responsible for paying any charge for any item or service when the charge is applied after the fact. Washington Mutual is totally responsible for denying me an opportunity to decide whether or not to pay for deposit slips. I then tried to send a message to customer service via the website. The messaging system itself is horrible. I managed to send a badly truncated message, but the response was more of the same. Washington Mutual has yet to reverse this totally unjustified charge.

     
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Checking
By -

The free checking is terrible, it takes the bank an average of 1 week to post a simple charge, and then you charge your card, and still that won't post until you have about four or five recurring charges on your card, and they charge you four or five NSF charges! It's absolutely ridiculous!

     
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Not So Free Checking
By -

I opened an account a few ears ago and was told the checking account would be free if I transferred $25.00 a month into my savings account. For the past few months I have not used my account except to deposit a little money to maintain it. Come to find out... My savings account is now being charged $5.00 a month. How free is that?

     
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